While the new fourth-generation Apple TV advances Apple’s entertainment box in many areas including universal search, Siri input and a whole App Store for the first time, much of week one with Apple TV 4 has been about what you lose when moving from Apple TV 2 or 3.
The list is uncomfortably packed for a device that had three years to advance since its predecessor hit the market: missing Bluetooth keyboard and iPhone/iPad Remote app support for easier text input, Apple Watch’s built-in Remote app doesn’t recognize it yet, the Podcasts app hasn’t moved over, and the Photos app is exactly the same (no iCloud Photo Library) despite the newer iCloud Music Library feature making the cut for Apple Music.
There’s also the oddity of each channel being pre-installed on older Apple TVs while new Apple TVs ship with only iTunes, Music, and Photos apps installed. If I were gifting a family member a new Apple TV — something I’m sure will be popular during the holidays — I’d prefer essential channels like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and HBO to come pre-installed, albeit optionally deletable, to make the experience friendlier. There’s also the lack of one universal sign-in process between multiple channels so that’s a big setup challenge. I had hoped Apple would tackle this with the new box but instead its just like the prior Apple TV experience.
That being said, my biggest critique and one I haven’t seen acknowledged nearly enough this week is the drop in usability of popular video apps, like the ones that used to be pre-installed on the third-gen Apple TV as ‘channels’. Simpler, list-focused versions of apps like Netflix and Hulu were just easier to use than current versions on the new Apple TV… expand full story